The colonial era comes alive amid the streets and historic homes of Maryland's Capital.
Maryland's three-century-old capital city is a blend of perfectly preserved Colonial, Victorian and Federal architecture that gently rises along the shores of the fabled Chesapeake Bay and Severn River. Start your journey with a tour - either self-guided (with an audio tape featuring Walter Cronkite), by minibus, or led by a Colonial-era costumed guide.
You'll soon be immersed in one of America's most enchanting cities. From the magnificent William Paca mansion and its two acres of gardens to the majestic Chase-Lloyd House, Charles Carroll and Hammond-Harwood houses, you'll find that much of Annapolis has remained intact since the growth that followed the city's becoming the state capital in 1695. The historic City Dock has been in use for more than three centuries, and the grand Maryland State House boasts America's largest wooden dome constructed without nails.
Part of the city's unique charm comes from being the home to two celebrated institutions of higher learning. Start the back-to-school portion of your journey at the United States Naval Academy, which has grown by leaps and bounds since its inception in 1845, but always stayed true to age-old traditions. At the Armel-Leftwich Visitor Center, you can pick up a map or join a guided tour to learn about the rigorous life of a midshipman. Then go to the Naval Academy Museum to learn about John Paul Jones and other legendary naval leaders and tour the amazing model ships and naval memorabilia collected over the centuries. Massive Bancroft Hall, one of the largest dormitories in the world, is home to all 4,000 students. Stop at the Herndon Monument, which is ascended each year by the first-year "plebes" - a task made more challenging because upperclassmen slather the obelisk with slippery lard.
Just a short walk away is a school of an entirely different sort: St. John's College. The third oldest college in the nation counts Francis Scott Key among its alumni and bases its curriculum solely on literary classics known as "The Great Books."
London Town, one of Maryland's early settlements, never grew to become a full-fledged city. But remnants of the past remain, and you can explore them yourself at the Historic London Town House and Garden, which is now home to the state's largest on-going archaeological dig. Overlooking the South River, the land looks today much as it did when the home was built. Spend the morning roaming eight acres of beautiful gardens and woods that surround the house.
Nearby, on the West River, the restored Capt. Salem Avery House will introduce you to the life of a 19th-century Chesapeake Bay waterman. Then find your own sea legs and spend the afternoon on the Bay aboard one of the many tour boats that ply the waters of this natural wonder - and sail past a man-made wonder, the awe-inspiring Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
Maryland State House